Welcome to the Office Mac Help Site About | Blog | Links | Glossary | Feedback | Downloads | Help

Troubleshoot Fonts

  1. Font Locations in Mac OS X
  2. Office fonts
  3. Check for a bad font
  4. Fonts to delete after installing Snow Leopard
  5. Delete these files in ~/Library/Caches:
    1. com.microsoft.browserfont.cache
    2. tasmanbrowser.cache (this is an older version and you might not see this)
  6. Download Apple's Advanced Typography with Mac OS X: Using and Managing Fonts for additional help.
  7. Tip: Do NOT turn off Apple's Helvetica, or any other font found in /System/Library/Fonts.
  8. John McGhie's troubleshooting list for Word slow starts
  9. Tools to clean font caches: [Snow Leopard users be sure to use a Snow Leopard ready version]
    1. Font Finagler
    2. Font Nuke
    3. TinkerTool System
    4. Tiger Cache Cleaner or Leopard Cache Cleaner or Snow Leopard Cache Cleaner
    5. Linotype FontExplorer X

Recommended Reading:


Font locations in Mac OS X:

  1. An application's own Fonts folder. Some applications have their own private font folders. These are located either inside the application's folder, or in the Application Support folder in the common Library folder. Office stores it's fonts here: /Applications/Microsoft Office 2004/Office/Fonts/. Office 2008 changed it's font location to /Library/Fonts/Microsoft folder.
  2. /Users/<your username>/Library/Fonts. This is the fonts folder in your one personal Library folder.
  3. /Library/Fonts. This is the system-wide font Library.
  4. /Network/Library/Fonts. This location only appears if you're running a Mac OS X Server.
  5. /System/Library/Fonts. All fonts used by Mac OS X system software are placed here. Never touch these fonts or anything in the System folder.
  6. /System Folder/Fonts. This is the fonts folder for the Classic environment. If you're running applications in both Classic and Mac OS X this is the place to put your fonts. This way, both Classic and Mac OS X applications can use them. Classic applications can't see fonts in any of the other font folders above.

Office Fonts

Office 2008: Office 2008 uses a different method for fonts and many fonts are new optimized versions. [Note: Snow Leopard installs newer version of some fonts. See this link] Office 2008 will install fonts to the /Library/Fonts/Microsoft folder. By being at the root, then all users on the machine have access to them and you don't get Office 2008 putting multiple copies on the machine for each user.

With this method:
Office font install offers the user a choice – have our fonts or don’t
Preserve hard drive space on the user’s machine
Leave the user’s older fonts alone so that the user can choose to re-enable them if they so desire
Put MSFT fonts in a location that keeps them organized and easily identifiable to the user.

The installer will scour /Library/Fonts/ and ~/Library/Fonts/ for fonts with the same name and move them to /Library/Disabled Fonts/ or ~/Library/Disabled Fonts/ depending on where they were found.

If you install Office 2008 then later go back and install Office 2004, Office 2004 installer will not honor the new font location and re-install fonts in it's usual location (see below). If you are using both Office 2008 and 2004 this could be a problem depending on how you installed. Office 2004 can use the new fonts where using the old fonts with 2008 could be problematic. Just be sure to install 2004 BEFORE installing 2008.

Font Facts:

Despite the version number, many (if not all) of the MSFT fonts are newer than the Apple OS ones. [Note: Snow Leopard installs newer version of serveral fonts. You need to remove these fonts and delete font caches to eliminate font related issues with Office applications and Snow Leopard.]

Office does not need ANY of its fonts to "run." However, various features of Office will be broken or display poorly unless you leave the fonts it installs in place.

Office 2008 relies on up-to-date Unicode versions of fonts that support ligatures and faces. Its own font set has been updated to provide these capabilities.

I would caution you not to disable the Chinese/Japanese fonts. These are required to produce certain special characters.


Office 2004: [You can delete all these fonts after installing Office 2008] The fonts in /Applications/Microsoft Office 2004/Office/Fonts/ were put there by the CD Installer to act as a source, backup and repair. They're not used directly by Office. At the first launch of an Office application they are copied to ~/Library/Fonts/, replacing any older versions put there by earlier versions of Office. These are the fonts used by Office and other applications

The general method of OS X is to look first in your user folder, here ~/Library/Fonts/ . If there happens to be a particular font there, it overrides any version that may be in /Library/Fonts/ or /System/Library/Fonts/ - it doesn't even look there for those. In most cases, once it's done with the user Library, it then looks in /Library/Fonts/ for any fonts not already found in ~/. Only these fonts from /Library will appear in the fonts lists. On OS X, most well-behaved applications installing fonts will do so in ~/Library, since OS X is a multi-user environment. You or your administrator might choose /Library, but it will simply get overruled by any user installation of the same fonts. However, if a user should trash his own fonts, the /Library version will then come into play. (And it may be that the admin won't let individual users have permission to remove those.) Finally, if no version of a font exists in either user or local location the default version in /System/Library/Fonts will take over. And those can't (i.e. shouldn't - and don't try) be removed. The system can access these versions as it wishes, and won't be overruled by other versions of those fonts you might have in the other Fonts folders which take precedence in other circumstances.

Contributed by Paul Berkowitz, Mac MVP

Note: I'm not sure if Leopard changed how it looks for fonts.


Check for a Bad Font

Check for number of fonts installed in the folder: <hard drive>/System Folder/fonts. There should be NO MORE than 255 files in that folder.

A bad font in Classic can cause a problem with any application and even OSX itself, not just MS Office. OSX checks several places for fonts. One of those places is fonts in OS9, whether Classic is running or not.

Note: See Font locations here

  1. Remove all fonts. Put half of the fonts back in the Fonts folder (presuming that it wasn't just that you had more than 255 files - in that case, try putting back 250 or so).
  2. Open Office application If bombs, go to (3). If not, go to (4)
  3. Bad font is in the fonts added to the Fonts folder. If one left, you've found it, go to (5). Otherwise, take out half of those in the Fonts folder. Go to (2).
  4. Bad font is in the half not added. Remove fonts from Fonts folder to another folder. Add half of remaining untested fonts to Fonts folder and go to (2).
  5. With found font removed, repeat from step (1) to ensure that there was only 1.

Steps to find bad font contributed by J.E. McGimpsey, Mac MVP


John McGhie's troubleshooting list for Word slow starts

1) Quit all Microsoft applications.

2) Track down all instances of pre-2008 Normal template on your computer, and drag them to your desktop. The file is called simply "Normal" and has no extension.

3) Find and drag the file Normal.dotm to your desktop. Unless you have moved it, it should be in

/Users/ ~ /Library/Application Support/Microsoft/Office/User Templates/

4) If the following files exist, Remove or rename them:

~/Library/Preferences/Microsoft/Word Settings (10)

~/Library/Preferences/Microsoft/Word Settings (11)

User/Library/Preferences/com.Microsoft.Word.plist

User/Library/Preferences/Microsoft/Office 2008 (the whole folder!)

5) Now re-start Word 2008 and it should be OK.

Be thorough with this, if you leave any of these files behind Word 2008 will find them and won't replace them. Do it right and Word will construct a new, clean, set of preferences and everything should now work. You need to re-apply the patch: Updater 12.0.1 or higher.